The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is considered a nuisance by just about anyone who has a lawn to care for. However this unwanted flower may be far more useful than anything your green grass can do for you.
If you have ever broken open the stem of this plant, you are well aware of its signature milky goo which oozes out. The root has this substance too, but even more of it. While it may not be fun to get on your hands, it contains the beneficial compounds taraxacin, inulin, and levulin. These bitter compounds demonstrate unique medicinal properties. How much antioxidants there are in dandelion root is higher than many sought after superfoods like wild blueberries, chia seeds, and spirulina.
For consumption, many will gently roast the root at a low temperature, grind it up, and enjoy it as a caffeine free coffee. In Japan, it is used as a tea recipe.
While it is a good source of antioxidants, it is important to keep in mind a couple side effects which can occur. For one, some experience an allergic reaction; dermatitis of the skin. Secondly, because of its high potassium content, hyperkalemia (too much potassium) can occur in some people.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Volume 13, Issue 1. NIH 2007